TCU Fights Its Way Into Elite Eight

May 18, 2017

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ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 6 TCU men’s tennis team fought off a feisty No. 25 Illinois as they scored a 4-1 victory over the No. 25 Illini to advance to the Elite Eight in the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Center in Athens, Ga.

After meeting earlier this season with the Horned Frogs (22-4) picking up the easy win over the Illini (18-12), Thursday’s match was a different story as Illinois went point-for-point with TCU. In doubles action, late breaks on courts two and three proved to be the difference as the No. 57 pair of Alex Rybakov and Guillermo Nuñez got the 6-3 win to kick-off the match while Trevor Johnson and Cameron Norrie secured the doubles point with a 6-4 victory on court three.

The battle did not end there as the teams split the opening sets on all six courts. No. 114 Jerry Lopez cruised to a 6-0 win in the opening set before finding himself trailing 5-1 in the second. The senior did not miss a beat as he won six straight games to give TCU its second point of the match. No. 1 Norrie avenged his lone loss of the season by breaking No. 3 Aleks Vukic to secure the 6-3, 6-4 victory and put the Frogs within one point of the overall victory. No. 20 Rybakov found his match in a tiebreaker on court two as he prevailed 6-2, 7-6 (5) for his 21st straight victory of the season and the clincher for the overall match victory.

With the win, TCU advances to its second Elite Eight in three seasons and eighth all-time in program history.

Quotes from the Match
Head Coach David Roditi
On advancing to the quarterfinals... 
“It was a full team effort. It took a long time to get here. You only have five days, but I feel like it has been a month since we qualified for the Round of 16. This is where everybody wants to be, in the quarterfinals. It is like a thanksgiving meal, this is all gravy from here. We will take it.” 

On what he expects from his players going forward... 
“I would like to see the same energy and focus in the doubles point and come out the same way. Not everything is going to go your way, but at the end of the day I am happy they get to experience NCAAs in Athens. I think every student-athlete who plays tennis should experience the NCAAs in Athens.” 

Match Results
Illinois vs TCU
May 18, 2017 at Athens, Ga.
(Dan Magill Tennis Center)
#6 TCU 4, #25 Illinois 1

Singles competition
1. #1 Cameron Norrie (TCU) def. #3 Aleks Vukic (ILLINI) 6-3, 6-4
2. #20 Alex Rybakov (TCU) def. #41 Aron Hiltzik (ILLINI) 6-2, 7-6
3. #83 Guillermo Nuñez (TCU) vs. Gui Gomes (ILLINI) 4-6, 6-3, 2-3, unfinished
4. #114 Jerry Lopez (TCU) def. Aleks Kovacevic (ILLINI) 6-0, 7-5
5. Reese Stalder (TCU) vs. Noe Khlif (ILLINI) 5-7, 6-2, 2-2, unfinished
6. Zeke Clark (ILLINI) def. Trevor Johnson (TCU) 6-4, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #25 Jerry Lopez/Reese Stalder (TCU) vs. #71 Vuk Budic/Aleks Vukic (ILLINI) 5-4, unfinished
2. #57 Alex Rybakov/Guillermo Nuñez (TCU) def. Zeke Clark/Aleks Kovacevic (ILLINI) 6-3
3. Cameron Norrie/Trevor Johnson (TCU) def. Gui Gomes/Aron Hiltzik (ILLINI) 6-4

Match Notes:
Illinois 18-12; National ranking #25
TCU 22-4; National ranking #6Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (4,6,1,2)

Up Next
TCU will face No. 3 Ohio State in the quarterfinals that will take place on Saturday, May 20 at 11 a.m., CT on the McWhorter Courts in the Dan Magill Tennis Center in Athens, Ga.



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